Saturday, October 10, 2020

Redang Island

While we are still physically fit and not constrained by work routines, we travel whenever and wherever we want to go. We had booked to go to Zhangjiajie in April and Canada in September; unfortunately, Covid-19 had dashed both these trips. Fortunately, there is space enough in Peninsular Malaysia for us to travel a little. Soon after the movement restrictions were lifted, we drove south to visit my brother in Johor Baru and my sisters in Muar. A couple of weeks later we headed north, thinking of visiting of Kota Bahru via the Kuala Lipis route. We had to rush back after my wife suffered severe food poisoning at Taman Negara. We did a couple of day trips around Selangor after that.

When my son suggested that we visit Pulau Redang with his boys, we were all game for it.

Pulau Redang is a small island off the coast of Terengganu. I believe there is a regular air service operated by Berjaya between Subang and the island. However, at this Covid-19 time, we rather drive.

We would drive to Merang, put up a night at a boutique hotel there and from there take a boat to Pulau Redang where we would stay for two nights at Berjaya’s Taaras Resort.

The drive from my pad at Saujana Resort to Merang was pretty uneventful. We did it in four and a-half hours. The first four hours were on a toll highway; only the last half-an-hour was through the villages leading to the boutique hotel we booked at Merang. Since the hotel does not cater for meals if it is not booked in advance, we adjourned to a restaurant nearby for our dinner. It looked clean, but the flies were very persistent in wanting to share the food with us.

The boutique hotel is clean, but not great. The rate was extraordinarily high for a hotel of its class – I believe my son paid more than MYR400 per room per night. The only consolation is that the breakfast served was generous.

While city hotels are suffering, resort hotels are doing a roaring business now. The Taaras Resort is no exception. It is very well booked, in spite of the prices. You have to pay MYR50 for a serve of Mamak

Princely price to stay in this boutique hotel in Merang

With the "resident" turtles

Jungle trekking in Pulau Redang

and more than MYR200 for one for its buffet do. And every sea activity costs a bomb.
What a great time!

I wouldn’t rate the resort highly. It was well past 3 in the afternoon before we got to check into the room; even then, towels were not available. My room’s air conditioner was noisy, so was the fan. I supposed these speak volumes about its maintenance culture and SOPs. For my room there was a warning sticker on the glass door facing the jungle to say, “Beware of Monkeys”, but apparently there was none in my son’s room. True enough, his room was ransacked by a gang while they were enjoyed the waters the next day!

My son’s boys did enjoy themselves thoroughly. But for oldies like me and my wife, we did find killing time in a beach hotel a little challenging, since we dread staying under hot sun for long. And besides the resort, you don’t really go around much in Pulau Redang.